UAE, Bahrain, join hands with Israel, towards a dawn of new peaceWed 16 Sep 2020
The two Gulf states, UAE, and Bahrain, on Tuesday signed a historic diplomatic pact with Israel at a White House ceremony that President Donald Trump declared will mark the “dawn of a new Middle East,” casting himself as an international peacemaker at the height of his re-election campaign.
The bilateral agreements formalised the already thawing relations between Israel and the two Arab states in line with their common opposition to Iran.
Hundreds of people massed on the sun-washed South Lawn to witness the signing of agreements in a festive atmosphere, almost little to not marked by the coronavirus pandemic. Attendees did not practice social distancing and most guests didn’t wear masks.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history,” Trump said in his opening statement. “After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the day “is a pivot of history. It heralds a new dawn of peace.”
Neither Netanyahu nor Trump mentioned the Palestinians in their remarks, but both the UAE and Bahraini foreign ministers spoke of the importance of creating a Palestinian state.
“Today, we are already witnessing a change in the heart of the Middle East — a change that will send hope around the world,” Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said.
Bahrani Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani said Bahrain would stand with the Palestinians. “Today is a truly historic occasion,” he said. “A moment for hope and opportunity.”
Israel and the U.S. hope the agreements can usher in a major shift in the region should other Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, follow suit. That could have implications for Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Until now, Israel has had peace deals only with Egypt and Jordan.
Other Arab countries believed to be close to recognising Israel include Oman, Sudan and Morocco.
“We are very down the road with about five different countries,” Trump told reporters before the ceremony.
In addition to the bilateral agreements signed by Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, all three signed a document dubbed the “Abraham Accords” after the patriarch of the world’s three major monotheistic religions.
The most detailed of the agreements was the one between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The nations agreed to approve bilateral agreements on 15 areas of mutual interest, including finance, trade, aviation, energy, telecommunications, health, agriculture and water.